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The Doctor's Wife

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The Doctor's Wife


Published April 1, 2012


LibriVox recording of The Doctor's Wife, by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. Read by Kirsten Wever.

This is one of the Victorian “Sensationist” Mary Elizabeth Braddon's many novels (best known among them: “Lady Audley’s Secret”). It is extremely well written, fluid, humorous and, in places, self-mocking: one of the main characters is a Sensation Author. The motifs of the-woman-with-a-secret, adultery, and death are classic “sensationist” material. Yet this is also a self-consciously serious work of literature, taking on various social themes of the day. Specifically, Braddon presents the psychological struggle and cognitive dissonance which are the inevitable plight of the married middle-class woman with a strong sense of self, who is essentially constrained to live the life of her husband. In this, it echoes Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary.”

The heroine, Isabel Sleaford, was driven early in her childhood to bury herself in, and develop her sense of self through, romantic novels and poetry. She is thus ill-adapted to the conventional, provincial structures and strictures laid upon her when she marries the very good and adoring, but also boring and unimaginative, Dr. George Gilbert. Isabel forms friendships with men (including her husband's best friend) who are more amenable to her romantic inclinations, and inevitably encounters social condemnation as a result. The book shows how life’s tragedies and the world’s cruel judgments shape Isabel, as she grows more mature, somewhat embittered, but also – true to her nature – beautifully resilient. (Summary by Kirsten Wever)

For further information, including links to online text, reader information, RSS feeds, CD cover or other formats (if available), please go to the LibriVox catalog page for this recording.

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Source Librivox recording of a public-domain text
Run time 17:59:51

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Reviews

Reviewer: TheBookworm - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 4, 2013
Subject: Doctor's Wife
Although Braddon is sometimes dismissed as a mere sensation writer, she was much more than that. I can't honestly compare her to Austin or Trollope but she tackles a serious subject (you decide what it is) with honesty and sensitivity. And with humour, for one of her principal characters is... a successful penny dreadful author! (no spoilers!)

Many thanks to Kristin Wever for her excellent, well-paced reading of this tragic-romantic novel.

TheBookworm (Manchester, UK)
Reviewer: sarahm - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 14, 2012
Subject: Very Enjoyable Read
I picked out The Doctor's Wife because I truly enjoyed Lady Audley's Secret

The reader is excellent.

The novel about a young woman who has formed all her views on life from the novels and poems she reads is humorous and sad.

The Doctor's Wife must have been written soon after Dickens Dombey and Son. There are many references. If you have read Dombey and Son you will enjoy The Doctor's Wife all the more.

Fortunately LibriVox includes a truly excellent recording of Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens. Read by Mil Nicholson - http://archive.org/details/dombey_and_son_0901_librivox
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